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Challenges for Digital Proximity Detection in Pandemics: Privacy, Accuracy, and Impact

In the last nine months, the world has seen the emergence of information technologies designed to provide portable proximity detection for the purpose of limiting the spread of respiratory infectious diseases. These technologies include wearables that provide alerts when social distance is not maintained, mobile applications that enable coordination with public health officials to provide exposure notification and/or augment manual contact tracing, and the use of encounter metrics to inform space occupancy limits and environmental controls management. Efforts to address questions about effectiveness and privacy risks are taking place within non-profit organizations, academia, commercial entities, public health and government organizations.
This workshop is a forum to discuss successes and challenges associated with implementation of proximity detection technologies and identify areas in which additional effort is required. These areas could be, but are not limited to, privacy and cybersecurity concerns, testbeds, machine learning algorithms, efficacy modelling, new technologies, data and standards, validation and verification, and commercialization. We invite the community of stakeholders to participate in the workshop by sharing their views on future needs for this rapidly developing discipline. The first day features speakers on a variety of aspects of proximity detection and the existing challenges. The second day features a panel discussion and facilitated break-out sessions that provide opportunity for community engagement on ways to overcome the challenges presented in the first day. The final day features a reports from the break-out session and a wrap-up discussion. 

NIST welcomes the submission of technical abstracts for 10-minute oral presentations. Please submit a 1-page abstract by e-mail to: no later than 12 PM EST, Jan. 4, 2021. Please include presenter first and last name, affiliation, contact e-mail address, and title. Submissions covering any aspect of portable proximity detection are welcome. Specific target areas include, but are not limited to:

  • Epidemiological modeling of the efficacy of electronic proximity detection
  • Public health needs related to electronic proximity detection
  • Ranging technologies
  • Privacy considerations
  • Machine learning algorithms
  • Validation and verification
  • Commercialization
  • Data and standards
  • Testbeds

Workshop Flyer 

Invited Speaker and Panelist Bios

Contributed Talk Abstracts 

View Draft Agenda: PDF

January 26th, 2021  10:00am - 3:30pm

January 27th, 2021  10:00am - 3:30pm

January 28th, 2021  10:00am - 3:30pm

Created November 12, 2020, Updated January 21, 2021